My dialogue with Laural Fawcett focused on her journey to becoming Buddhist, exploring the middle realm- from suffering that motivated her to seek spiritual development, which we studied during this semester. During this dialogue, I obtained new insights on the concept of Sanskrit, Dukkha, and the active practice of Buddha’s teachings. Laural described her journey into becoming Buddhist as a search for a peaceful path that ensued self-development, gaining consciousness of the interdependence, compassion to all life forms, and sanity. These connections and realizations have helped her cope in the midst of all of life’s detriments such as her mentally ill son and all other problems regarding physical or mental health. Laural described religion as being as an attitude, and coping mechanism for people to find themselves and a as a guide to treat others. She explained that all religions are like the same song, there are just different creators. She described the Dharma as a “warm blanket that protects and comforts me through any season at any age”.
Only a few of her close friends, co-workers, and family members have a real understanding of what Buddhism is, much less how it determines my interaction with them and the world. Laural grew up Christian, and became interested in Buddhism when she moved to Oakland 5 years ago in 2014 when she befriended a coworker who was Buddhist. The most challenging aspect of her newfound spirituality was when other people would invalidate her as Buddhist because she was white, and many people she knows attend the church that her step father works at. She explained that her typical interaction with these types of people would someone will ask a few questions, but continue to behave as though I am still Christian. Despite the slight frustration, Laural explained that she still whole-heartedly accepts their well-intentioned praises of God as well as the subtle attempts at conversion about her transition into Buddhism, because she understand that its coming from a place of love. “For many, the study of world religions is part of a larger project-the love ongoing development of a coherent worldview” (Vaughn, 1) For Laural, her views on her journey as Buddhist is very similar to one of Lewis Vaughn’s theories of religious study. Laural defined the experience as an embrace of new ideas and theories as a tool to dissolve ignorance and make the universe a clearer and more peaceful place.
With her knowledge on Dukkha, and the Noble truths, it provides Laural with the strength to deal with any and all types of people as well as having the power to forgive purposeful or non-purposeful cruelties made towards herself or her loved ones. Her spiritual journey is held to the promise that no one who seeks Enlightenment will be left behind. She described Amida, a celestial Buddha, causes Sanskrit (awakening) to evolve in all beings who follow the path toward enlightenment without prejudice or discrimination.
This discussion really opened my eyes as to how one can transition into another religion, but still appear to be unchanged in the sense of who they are, Laural always was kind natured and had a love for all living beings, so the transition was natural, the only change was a gain in more knowledge. “Studying world religions is like studying any other academic subject-a legitimate goal is knowledge for its own sake” (Vaughn, 2). Me being a Christian, I can relate to her hunger for spiritual enlightenment through the power of a divine being. Her attitude and journey of Buddhism made me want to learn more about Buddhism. It also made me aware of the idea that any walk of life can pursue any religion because it is simply a journey of knowledge towards a mindset- not anything else.